Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Rogelio Meza, but everyone calls me Roger, and I live in Mission, Texas. I am 22 years old, and currently my main focus is to study for the MCAT as I aspire to one day be a psychiatrist.
What is your experience with sex education in Texas?
My peers and I didn’t receive a lot of sex education while in school, especially in high school and middle school. There was a day my middle school designated specifically to talk about some sex education topics. They decided to separate the girls and boys, and they were just trying to scare us about teen pregnancy rather than teach us how to prevent unexpected teen pregnancy. They spoke about pregnancy but never went in depth. Not only that, but they did not talk about STDs or other topics relating to sex education.
The high school I attended never talked about any sex education topics. Health class was a semester but was optional. A way I have received sex education has been with the help of my friends. Some of my friends get tested frequently for STIs, so they know places where I can get those services, and that has been helpful. Also, some of my friends are on PrEP, so I have gotten educated through them. Overall, the way I have received sex education has been socially and not by any school course.
What do you want teens right now to know?
Getting sex education in school would be really beneficial, and teaching teens more about different ways to prevent teen pregnancies would be helpful. I also think that teens need a lot more resources to know what to do if they find out they are pregnant. Schools need to provide their students with different resources so that students know who to reach out to if they have any questions or concerns about anything sex education related.
A bit of advice I would give any sexually active teen is to get tested. There are a lot of STDs that can have long-lasting effects on your health and life. Teens should know that if they are going to have unprotected sex, they should build that trust with the other person and ask if they are tested.
What could have been offered to you as a teen to make you feel more supported in making decisions about sex and relationships?
Having inclusive sex education in schools would have been very beneficial. The inclusive sex education that I lacked could have helped me. A lot of LGBTQ+ teens do not know information on how to have safe sex and also do not learn about the different types of STDs, or HIV. Not only that, but they are not aware of the signs and symptoms.
When I was a teen, there was no organization that helped me learn about sex education topics. I feel like there could have been some support if organizations had reached out and joined with schools to educate students about sex education topics. Now I know more organizations that are actively trying to help teens learn sex education topics, such as Planned Parenthood. Currently, that has been an organization that my friends and I use to get sex education information.
Can you share a memory about a person or service who was most helpful to you when you were working through these decisions about sex and relationships?
My friends are the ones that have helped me a lot. They helped me get educated on topics I did not know information about, as well as guiding me to the correct resources. They helped me know where I could go and get tested.
In addition to my friends’ information, I also had to do a lot of self-learning by doing research on the internet and watching videos on YouTube. That has helped me gain knowledge of sex education topics. Knowing more has also pushed me to be more aware of the consequences that having unprotected sex can bring. I learned the different STDs one can contract and the different medications that can be taken if I were to contract an STD. Not only that, but I have learned information that could help my friends one day. I have done research on the type of medication that can be taken if one of my female friends had unprotected sex.
What support do you think was missing that would have been most helpful to you?
In my Mexican-American family, sex is not a topic that we talk about. We keep these topics to ourselves. If my parents had talked to me about sex, I would have learned earlier. They only focused on talking to me about using protection and not other topics related to sex education. I would have liked it if my culture made these conversations with parents less awkward and less taboo. If these conversations had not been seen as awkward, I would have liked to be taught by my parents about STDs and the different ways I could contract them.
Not only was there a lack of support in my family, but also at my schools. Topics of sex education for LGBTQ+ teens were never brought up while I was growing up. All the little bits of information on sex education I received in middle school was centered around heterosexual people; therefore, only focusing on topics relating to the prevention of pregnancy.
How do you wish to help others in your community?
I want to keep having open conversations with people I encounter that are in need of information relating to sex education. I want to be that person who they did not have growing up and help them obtain information. Not only that, but I aspire to be a future psychiatrist and with that education, I would like to help my community by educating them about sex education topics that are never brought up as well as mental health topics. My community avoids talking about these conversations because of the culture, so I hope to shed light on the needs of these conversations in families.